Record summer for farm centre

Keith Slater, founder of Whitehouse Farm Centre, is pictured with Nelson, the farms new mascot.
Keith Slater, founder of Whitehouse Farm Centre, is pictured with Nelson, the farms new mascot.

A Northumberland family attraction is celebrating after a record-breaking summer.

Family business Whitehouse Farm Centre, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in July, welcomed 14,000 visitors during August — a seven per cent increase on the same time last year.

Whitehouse Farm.

Whitehouse Farm.

The boost in visitor numbers represents a landmark year for the centre, with an 11 per cent increase in its total income during August, which generated more than £180,000 in turnover.

Karen Lovatt, Operations Director at Whitehouse Farm Centre, said: “This is a fantastic tribute to the hard work of all our staff and our many wonderful friends, both old and new, who visited during the summer holidays.

“In 1997 the farm attracted 20,000 visitors annually and now we see more than 100,000 visitors a year.

“This growth and the income it generates enables us to continue developing our visitor offering and events programme with exciting new activities and attractions for people to come back again and enjoy.”

Karen Lovatt, operations manager at Whitehouse Farm Centre, with a furry friend.

Karen Lovatt, operations manager at Whitehouse Farm Centre, with a furry friend.

Whitehouse Farm used to be the biggest egg producer in the North East.

Founder of the business Keith Slater, now 81, launched a small farm park in 1997 with some animals, a tea shop and play areas. His aim was to educate visitors about farming life in a fun and engaging way.

Ms Lovatt added: “The family has worked extremely hard to develop the business into one of Northumberland’s favourite visitor attractions. The Farm Centre has grown substantially in two decades, mainly through listening to our customers and loyal supporters.

“To mark our 20th anniversary we made several exciting new investments this year totalling £80,000. They include a new ice cream parlour, full refurbishment of the café to create the Whitehouse Farm Kitchen, extending our animal housing and creating a new interactive indoor play area.

“We’ve also worked hard to strengthen our branding by refreshing our online platforms and introducing Nelson the Pig, our official farm mascot.

“Recruiting more staff has also been integral to our growth. We recently appointed a dedicated events co-ordinator to expand our activities programme. Next month we are introducing online ticket sales for day passes, annual memberships and special events to make it even easier for visitors to plan their day out.

“In 2018 work is also due to start on an exciting new investment to extend facilities within the Farm Park and celebrate our 21st birthday.”

The centre is home to reptiles, meerkats, skunk, marmoset monkeys, deer, wallabies, llamas, alpacas, ponies, owls and parrots, alongside more typical farm animals you would expect to find in Northumberland.